Research Centre and the Reading Room Accessing Records at the Memorial

The section of the Memorial that holds written records of war is called the Research Centre. The collections maintained by the Research Centre document Australian involvement in war and operational service. Additionally, these documents can provide information on the historical background, and the effects on Australian society, of the conflicts in which Australia has been involved.

While you can use this website to access the Research Centre’s digitised historic documents and records, this represents only a small proportion of the records we hold.

The Reading Room is a dedicated facility within the Memorial where we provide research assistance and access to the Research Centre’s non-digitised archival material.

Visit the Reading Room

Visitors can access the Research Centre’s collections and consult with staff for research advice in the Reading Room. The Reading Room is located on the lower ground floor of the Memorial.

Most of the Research Centre’s collection is held in our archives and needs to be retrieved for you to view. It typically takes 60 minutes for collection items held onsite to be retrieved. Retrieval requests submitted for onsite material after 4 pm will be retrieved for the next business day. Some of the collection is held off-site, and it may take two weeks to be retrieved. If you have limited time available for your visit you can contact the Research Centre and arrange to have items retrieved before your arrival.

Please allow sufficient time to undertake your research, taking retrieval times into consideration. It is difficult to estimate how much time will need to be allocated for your research. Generally speaking, one day would be adequate for basic research such as reading through a unit war diary.

Please help us preserve the collections by following our guide to viewing archival material in the Reading Room.

Reading Room opening hours

The Reading Room is open: 

  • Monday to Friday from 10 am to 4.30 pm
  • Saturdays from 1 pm to 4.30 pm

The Reading Room is closed:

  • Sundays
  • ACT public holidays, including:
    • Friday 10 April 2020 - Good Friday
    • Saturday 11 April 2020 - Easter Saturday
    • Sunday 12 April 2020 - Easter Sunday
    • Monday 13 April 2020 - Easter Monday
    • Saturday 25 April 2020 – ANZAC Day
    • Monday 27 April 2020 – Declared public holiday
    • Monday 1 June 2020 – Reconciliation Day
    • Monday 8 June 2020 – Queen’s Birthday
    • Monday 5 October 2020 – Labour Day
    • Friday 25 December 2020 – Christmas Day
    • Saturday 26 December 2020 – Boxing Day
    • Monday 28 December 2020 – Boxing Day holiday
    • Friday 1 January 2021 – New Year’s Day

The Research Centre telephone enquiry service is available from 9 am until 5 pm Monday to Friday, excluding ACT public holidays.

Do you need help with your research? Use our online enquiry service.

If you are unable to visit the Reading Room to conduct your research, local research agents are available to undertake research on your behalf.

Copying services

It is possible to have copies of items from the Research Centre’s archival collections digitised, depending on:

  • the physical condition of the item
  • any donor restrictions, as in the case of Private Records
  • the Copyright Act, and
  • the Archives Act.

Copies of archival material are delivered online by publication on the Memorial’s website, or, where unable to be delivered online, by electronic documents transfer.

You are welcome to visit the Research Centre or use the online databases to fill out a Request for a copy cost estimate. We will prepare an estimate for the entire file. We do not have the resources available to examine the file to determine which pages are relevant to your research or to digitise individual page extracts from a file.

Please note: We are in the process of installing new specialist oversize scanning equipment. Clients requesting digitisation of oversize items may experience some delay in the completion of their order.

A copier is available in the Research Centre Reading Room for visitors to make copies from books and journals. If you are unable to visit to make copies from these published sources, you can request them via inter-library loan from your local library.

Collection guides

Collection guides are inventories, indexes, or guides that are created by archival and manuscript repositories to provide information about specific collections.

The Research Centre collection guides contain information about selected private records and ephemera collections held in the Research Centre of the Australian War Memorial. In general, each collection guide includes:

  • background information on the creator or theme of the collection
  • a description of the collections overall content and organisation
  • a breakdown of the collection's contents